Each semester, SMU biology professors Pia Vogel and John Wise welcome a handful of dedicated and curious students to their lab in the SMU Dedman Life Sciences building. The SMU undergraduate students and Dallas-area high school students get hands-on experience working on cancer research in the combined SMU Department of Biological Sciences laboratories of Wise and Vogel.
SMU scientists and their research have a global reach that is frequently noted, beyond peer publications and media mentions. It was a good year for SMU faculty and student research efforts. Here's a small sampling of public and published acknowledgements during 2015, ranging from research modeling that made the cover of a scientific journal to research findings presented as evidence at government hearings.
Drugs important in the battle against cancer responded the way they do in real life and behaved according to predictions when tested in a computer-generated model of one of the cell’s key molecular pumps — the protein P-glycoprotein, or P-gp. Biologists at SMU developed the computer generated model to overcome the problem of relying on only static images for P-gp's structure, said biologist John G. Wise, lead researcher.
Researchers at Southern Methodist University, Dallas, have discovered three new drug-like compounds that could ultimately offer better odds of survival to prostate cancer patients. The drug-like compounds can be modified and developed into medicines that target a protein in the human body that is responsible for chemotherapy resistance in cancers, said biochemist Pia D. Vogel.
SMU now has a powerful new tool for research – one of the fastest academic supercomputers in the nation – and a new facility to house it. With a cluster of more than 1,000 Dell servers, the system’s capacity is on par with high-performance computing (HPC) power at much larger universities and at government-owned laboratories. The U.S. Department of Defense awarded the system to SMU in August 2013.
A picture is worth 1,000 words when it comes to understanding how things work, but 3D moving pictures are even better. That’s true for scientists trying to stop cancer by better understanding the proteins that make some chemotherapies unsuccessful. Now SMU biochemist John G. Wise at SMU has brought to life in a moving 3D computer model the structure of a key protein related to recurring cancers.
SMU biologists Pia Vogel and John Wise in the SMU Department of Biological Sciences are using the computational power of the SMU high-performance supercomputer to screen millions of drug compounds. They hope to find a compound that can be developed into a drug that re-enables chemotherapy after it fails to work against recurring cancer.
In his third-floor laboratory in Dedman Life Sciences Building, biologist Robert Harrod and his team are zeroing in on a new way to inhibit the virus that causes AIDS. They already have shown that their approach, which involves the rare genetic disorder Werner syndrome, works when the disorder's enzyme defect is introduced into cells.
Now they are trying to find practical ways to use this pathway to inhibit the AIDS virus. The beauty of this approach is that the AIDS virus will not be able to mutate in a way that can defeat this treatment, says Harrod, associate professor in the Biological Sciences Department of Dedman College.